|Publication number||US6990756 B1|
|Application number||US 10/996,080|
|Publication date||Jan 31, 2006|
|Filing date||Nov 22, 2004|
|Priority date||Oct 15, 2004|
|Also published as||US20060080869|
|Publication number||10996080, 996080, US 6990756 B1, US 6990756B1, US-B1-6990756, US6990756 B1, US6990756B1|
|Original Assignee||Sylmark Holdings Limited|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (31), Referenced by (18), Classifications (16), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims the benefit of Provisional 60/619,184 filed Oct. 15, 2004.
The present invention relates generally to footwear orthotics and more particularly to footwear orthotics having removable inserts.
During their lifetime, it is reported that most people will have foot problems of sufficient importance to cause discomfort and/or pain. Most minor foot problems are discussed with amateurs, such as shoe salespersons. More serious problems are referred to primary care physicians or orthopedists. Ideally, pedorthic management begins with an evaluation of footwear and foot support. Regardless of whether a foot problem is minor or substantial, the foot and shoe must work together as a unit, with the shoe providing proper alignment and support of the foot.
Where it is found that a person is not receiving the proper alignment and support from his or her footwear, orthotics can be used in conjunction with the footwear to provide the support needed. Orthotics are typically inserted into the person's shoes, and therefore are also referred to as “orthotic inserts.” The terms orthotics and orthotic inserts are used interchangeably herein.
One advantage of using orthotics is to augment the arch support provided by footwear. Lack of sufficient arch support leads to numerous foot problems. For example, lack of support in the medial arch (the main arch along the inside of the foot) can lead to foot fatigue, plantar fasciitis (heel spurs), neuroma pain, or bunions. Lack of support in the metatarsal arch (under the ball of the foot) can cause metatarsalgia (a pain in the ball of the foot), pain in the toes, or decreased balance control. Orthotics have been developed to deal with each of these problems, either individually or in combination.
A proper orthotic should provide support for both the metatarsal arch and the plantar arch simultaneously. A typical problem in developing orthotics is the difficulty in balancing the need for proper arch support with the comfort of the user. In one known type of orthotics, a soft, “cushion-type” pad is provided. Although the orthotic pad has an initial contour to provide arch support, it is too soft to maintain support during wear. Accordingly, under the weight of the user, the orthotic pad ultimately conforms to the shape of the foot rather than vice versa, and as a result, fails to provide adequate support to the wearer.
To overcome the shortcomings of the orthotic pads described above, other known orthotics have been made of rigid materials (such as hard plastics). A disadvantage of the rigid, relatively hard orthotics is that, initially, they can be uncomfortable for the user. The rigid orthotic typically has a contoured upper portion that applies pressure to (and thus supports) the foot arches. Users unaccustomed to the constant pressure applied by the rigid orthotic may find it irritating. The arch support, although ultimately helpful in the treatment of foot problems described above, is initially difficult to wear due to the user's unfamiliarity with arch support products. The pressure applied by the protrusions in the orthotic can lead to acute irritation or, in some instances, calluses.
As a result of the discomfort, some users may stop wearing orthotics altogether and abandon their treatment program, thereby failing to obtain proper treatment and possibly escalating their foot problems.
It is therefore desirable to provide an orthotic that is sufficiently rigid so as to provide adequate arch support, yet comfortable in use.
As shown in
The orthotic is preferably constructed of a single piece of molded resilient plastic so shaped as to include protrusions and contours for providing proper arch support. The specific shape of the orthotic may vary according to the size of the user's feet. One skilled in the art will be able to practice the present invention with orthotics of various sizes and shapes.
As discussed above, most orthotic wearers complain that the pressure applied by the orthotic contours, particularly in the metatarsal area, is initially uncomfortable. Thus, it is desirable to, at least in the beginning stages, soften the metatarsal region. The present invention enables the users to achieve the appropriate comfort level by selecting the level of arch support that is appropriate for them.
Once the user is comfortable with the use of the initial stage insert, he or she can proceed to the next level. The insert 12 shown in
At each stage, when the user has become comfortable in wearing that stage's orthotic and has grown accustomed to the pressure applied by the removable insert of that stage's orthotic, he or she can progress to the next level orthotic, until the user reaches the level of an orthotic having the maximum arch support. A preferred embodiment of an orthotic with maximum arch support is shown in
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, as shown in
The present invention enables a user to customize the arch support provided by an orthotic. Furthermore, the user can train his or her feet to gradually grow accustomed to a maximum level arch support. By providing a removable insert, the need to purchase multiple orthotics having different size protrusions is eliminated.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3–5, the removable insert 12 is press-fitted or friction fitted into a cavity 14 in the orthotic 10. The cavity 14 is dimensioned to securely receive the insert 12. To ensure that the insert 12 remains in place, the insert 12 preferably has a rail 16 positioned on each side. Rail 16 engages a corresponding guide 18 in the cavity 12, to hold the insert in position. Other known means of retaining the removable insert in the cavity may be used.
In another preferred embodiment of the invention (not shown in the drawings), the heel portion 20 comprises a removable insert. In a manner similar to that described above, the orthotic can be provided with removable heel inserts having various degrees of hardness and thickness. Furthermore, the inserts can have different contours. As with the metatarsal inserts, the heel inserts would be positioned in a cavity dimensioned to securely receive the heel insert. The heel inserts can be maintained in the cavity in the same manner as described with respect to the metatarsal inserts.
The inserts and the orthotic preferably include apertures 22 to facilitate air circulation through the orthotic. The aperture 22 and cavity 14 are preferably dimensioned to achieve the desired flexibility.
Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention set forth herein will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which the invention pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.
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|U.S. Classification||36/155, 36/160, 36/159|
|Cooperative Classification||A43B7/148, A43B17/18, A43B17/08, A61F5/14, A43B7/1465, A43B7/142|
|European Classification||A43B7/14A20A, A43B7/14A30R, A43B7/14A40F, A61F5/14, A43B17/08, A43B17/18|
|Nov 22, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SYLMARK HOLDINGS LIMITED, IRELAND
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:JOHNSON, ROBERT;REEL/FRAME:016027/0480
Effective date: 20041119
|Jul 31, 2009||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Sep 13, 2013||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Jan 31, 2014||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Mar 25, 2014||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20140131